My daughter, Emily Thomas, has been a client of the Delaware County Board of Developmental Disabilities for 23 years.

To the Editor:

My daughter, Emily Thomas, has been a client of the Delaware County Board of Developmental Disabilities for 23 years. She was enrolled in Early Intervention soon after she was released from the hospital at 10 weeks old. She participated in the preschool program at Hickory Knoll and continued to receive DCBDD services while attending Buckeye Valley schools. Upon graduation, she entered the adult services program and with the financial support of DCBDD, she currently attends Stone Lake Center adult day program three days per week, receives case management services and participates in Special Olympics.

As the parent of an eligible child, I witnessed the exceptional services and supports provided to clients and their families by a dedicated team of professionals. As a former member and president of the DCBDD (1990-96), I worked with the administration to meet client needs through creative service delivery and fiscal constraints. As a Delaware County voter and taxpayer, I supported every DCBDD levy because I believe the administration has been a good steward of the funds and clients are receiving the individualized services they need.

DCBDD is currently facing a financial crisis due to the loss of revenue, an increase in costs (specifically match for Medicaid waivers) and tremendous growth in enrollment. The Delaware County board has been prudent with their spending and has also implemented significant reductions in staff and services to reduce costs. However, they require additional funds through an operating levy in order to continue providing services to more than 2,000 Delaware County citizens. Without these funds, drastic cuts in staffing and services will have to be made.

My daughter has her medical and physical needs provided through private insurance and Medicaid, but this addresses only part of her current needs. DCBDD provides access to a safe, structured day program where she has friends and participates in community activities. She also attends Special Olympic bowling practices and tournaments where she proudly earned many ribbons and medals for her efforts. These may not seem like "critical services" to others, but without DCBDD support, she would be more isolated and restricted to her home with little opportunity to interact with her peers or participate in community activities. To me, that sounds like a step back in time, when those who were "different" were kept in institutions.

Thank you for your past support of DCBDD services for clients and families. Today, I am personally asking for your continued support by voting "yes" May 7, so the Delaware County Board of Developmental Disabilities can continue to provide the outstanding services and support to the citizens of Delaware County.

Lori J. Thomas